Pickles responds to concerns that local plans are not sound

During a session of the Communities and Local Government select committee, Eric Pickles responded to concerns about the number of local plans which are failing the test of ‘soundness’. He confirmed that his department had been discussing the position with the Planning Inspectorate and that whilst he did not expect many rejections from those plans already submitted, those local plans with "realistic" housing targets were more likely to be signed off. 

Pickles also commented on the weight to be given to local plans. awaiting approval in the determination of applications, that the more advanced/realistic and robust the evidence is with regard to housing numbers and the ability of those housing numbers to actually appear then the greater emphasis the local plan will have.

Housing refused despite lack of five year supply

Eric Pickles has issued an unusual appeal decision, unusual because it dismisses a housing scheme despite there being no five year land supply on greenfield land near Clitheroe. The development was in outline and proposed up to 345 dwellings and a crèche.

Whilst it was accepted there would be a harmful impact due to the loss of open countryside, the land had no special landscape designation and this harm would be over-ridden by the need to provide additional housing. It was also accepted that the site was in a sustainable location and so, under the NPPF, the presumption in favour of development should apply. However, the scheme only included minimal road improvements and in the context of existing traffic levels would result in severe local transport impacts, thereby failing to meet the transport policies in the NPPF. This consideration outweighed the presumption in favour of development.

Neighbourhood Planning to be a key part of the next Labour Government

The Shadow Planning Minister Roberta Blackman-Woods has stated that the next Labour Government would like to extend and streamline neighbourhood planning, improve community engagement, make proper use of land (and its value) and bring together thinking on regenerative planning. Incorporating neighbourhood plans into the plan making process at an earlier stage will help community-led planning, which will help restore the public’s faith in the planning system. This could help to overcome local opposition (NIMBYSM) to development.

Draft CIL Revisions Delayed

There are currently two draft Statutory Instruments awaiting parliamentary approval. Both are amendments to existing regulations, one for changes to CIL (as previously reported in the December 2013 Update) and the other for changes to planning application fees in respect of oil and gas exploration.

The CIL amendments were originally laid before Parliament on the 9th of December 2013, but a revised draft was laid earlier this month. This revision will delay the changes becoming law by up to a month. 

Report advocates a shake-up of Pre-applications

The British Property Federation (BPF) has launched a report titled; ‘The 10 Commitments for effective pre-application engagement’. This report concludes that there should be closer and earlier working relationships between local authorities and developers, where all participants are proactive and committed to working in an effective and collaborative way. By communicating clearly from the beginning all parties can identify and solve potential problems earlier on which will leave the path to full planning permission open.

Nick Boles said that ‘having builders, councils and local residents all taking earlier in the planning process is the best way to deliver the new homes and jobs we need’. Although, the NPPF currently requires councils to work in a proactive manner with developers (paragraph 187) so it could be argued if they were doing this already, there would be no need for new policies or reports on a closer engagement.

Future of the Land Registry unknown

The Minister for Business and Energy, Michael Fallon has launched a consultation on possible changes to the Land Registry. The government is considering changing its structure by separating policy and the delivery of services as a new company could serve the property market more effectively as it will be able to operate more flexibly. The consultation can be found here.

Radical shake up to Local Government in Wales explored

The Williams Commission on Public Service Governance and Delivery has proposed that the current 22 councils in Wales be reduced down to around 10 over the next three years, which will ensure they are fit for the future. The commission argues that larger authorities would be more resilient and improve joint working between emergency services. The Welsh Local Government Association said it feared that a potential reorganisation could impact upon the preparation of local development plans (LDPs), and that they would have to be revised posted any reorganisation.

Tesco lose out in Bath

Eric Pickles has dismissed an appeal by Tesco for a mixed use development in an out of centre location in Bath. The scheme comprised a 6,300sq m supermarket, 7,190sq m of Class B1 employment space (a mix of offices and creative work industries), 220sq m community space, 10 houses and a basement car park.

The decision was made on NPPF retail grounds with the Secretary of State concluding that there was a sequentially preferable site, and that the development would have a harmful impact on a district centre. The case is interesting because the sequentially preferable site was subject to a competing application by Sainsbury, although this application was withdrawn before the appeal was determined. Nevertheless, it was considered there were no bars to this site being developed at some time in the future.

LOCAL PLAN NEWS

Bedford Borough Council – Issues and Options of the Local Plan 2032 is open for consultation and this can be found here.

Birmingham City Council – Pre-submission of its Development Plan 2031 is open for consultation and this can be found here.

Castle Point Borough Council – Draft Local Plan is open for consultation and this can be found here.

Cornwall Council – the Local Plan Strategic Policies Document has been approved by the council to be re-consulted later this year, which is forecast to be in March.

Dacorum Borough Council – Community Infrastructure Levy, Draft Charging Schedule is open for consultation and this can be found here.

High Peak Borough Council – Local Plan, Additional Changes is open for consultation and this can be found here.

Newcastle City Council – The Development and Allocations Local Development Document (LDD) of the Future Core Strategy and Urban Core Plan is open for consultation.

Selby District Council – Community Infrastructure Levy, Preliminary Draft Charging Schedule is open for consultation and this can be found here.

Warrington Borough Council – Local Plan Core Strategy is open for an additional post submission consultation and this can be found here.